As I’ve said before, my readers send me neat stuff.
However, as I told the loyal 5FF sender-inner behind this yesterday, there’s no way I’m clicking on the little “play” arrow.
Just too creepy.
In fact, as I told him, there’s some dispute about whether or not Mick Jones really wrote this song about Ellen Foley, as is popularly believed.
Actually, you could write a fairly funny parody version in which he and Foley argue about this. Someone surely has by now.
Mick’s answer depends on when he’s been asked , but she says yes, and is still pretty pissed about it.
“I should have dated Joe Strummer,” she recently spat out to New York magazine.
(As he said he would do in one of the Clash’s earliest interviews. When someone tells you who they are, believe them.)
Joe slept with Topper’s girlfriend when they were on tour. (Fun bus rides!)
He slept with Don Lett’s girlfriend when they were all living in the same house and Don still loves Joe and there is nothing at all “Jonestown”y about that!
Anyway, if I were Ellen Foley I’d probably be bitter too, if only because I’d be adding up the millions of royalty dollars I was “owed” as the song’s inspiration.
That’s a mistake too many women make:
Why be the muse when you could be the musician?
Why be “with the band” when you could just be in it — and get the exponentially larger payout?
Because women are lazy and stupid, silly!
Joe seems to be the actual source of these stories, too, as authentically autobiographical as the few details are…
The image of rock’n’roll was saturated with sex, and punks, in the main, felt this should change.
“John (Lydon) called us The Flowers of Romance,” explains Viv. “It was a cynical take on it all, we are the flowers, the results of romantic love. It was a cynical time, it was the Seventies, a no-frills, strict way of looking at life. Not believing what you were told. It was against romance, the whole romantic love thing was cooked up, and punk was very aware of that, and derided it.
“This pissed off Mick Jones, who was a very romantic guy. When we were boyfriend and girlfriend — you know, we were each other’s first loves — I wouldn’t hold his hand, I wouldn’t be seen to be all kissy with him, it was against what we believed in. But he wanted to be himself, a romantic and loving person. It was ridiculous, but he was really more of an individual in that sense than me.”
The group had a “no love songs” rule and Mick broke it at least twice (more if you count bits of “Gates of the West”) although these are only “love songs” in the faintest, most negative way, of course.
Songs of what might be termed sexual disgust (see above), like “Protex Blue,” barely count either.
So maybe Joe wasn’t pleased about these “kissy” songs, but I don’t think he tore up the giant royalty cheques, either.
This long essay about “Train in Vain” by serial Clash biographer Marcus Gray is illuminating and occasionally entertaining:
That said, had Mick presented the song as a haunting and fey acoustic ballad, he would quite likely have found himself sitting outside Wessex’s front door wearing his guitar for a hat.
(Alas, Gray’s publishers don’t seem to employ copyeditors; in one book, we’re informed that Mick’s relationships with both Viv and Foley “ground to a painful halt.” Maybe Gray had trains on the brain…)
There is no dispute, however, that “Ping Pong Affair” (accurate lyrics hard to find online) is Viv’s song more or less about Mick. The “comic books/sulking/in your room all alone” references give it away even if she hadn’t said so.
You’ll notice nobody picks it on karaoke night…
UPDATE — Subject line — “No hard feelings”: